You Can’t Go Wrong With a Card With Tubas On It

Happy Valentine’s Day! Instead of doing a Valentine’s Day-themed Saturday Shopper today (what use would that be to you now? If you still need ideas for a belated Valentine’s gift, check out either Thursday’s or last week’s post), I thought I’d tell you guys a little bit about my first Valentine’s Day with Andrew and how it basically cemented our relationship.

Andrew and I started dating in late November 2008, so we had been together for less than three months by the time our first Valentine’s Day rolled around. It was also the first time I had ever had a boyfriend/any sort of date on Valentine’s Day, so the pressure was on.

Something else you should know, if you don’t already, is that Andrew and I met in the marching band. He played the trumpet and I played sousaphone. (How I got dragged into THAT is another story for another day.) By spring semester 2009, I was deeply involved in the BC Marching Band—I had just been elected to the executive board, and even though we weren’t in season during the spring, I was still eating, sleeping, and breathing BCMB and would for the next two years.

So anyway, Valentine’s Day. Since this was my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend, I wanted to make it good. The problem was that I had no idea what kind of gift one should buy a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. Did it have to be romantic or could it be just, you know, nice? Like a Christmas or birthday gift? I dug around in my mental archives for anything I remembered him mentioning that he liked…I vaguely remembered him saying something about how he likes to try a new jam whenever he goes grocery shopping…and that’s how I ended up buying my first serious boyfriend an assorted box of jams and jellies for our first Valentine’s Day together. I ordered it online from Smucker’s. And you know what? He still has every single one of those empty jam jars. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

I was also a little worried about the card. We hadn’t dropped the “L-bomb” yet, so I had to make sure not to get something too mushy. I figured a funny card would be the best, but I also didn’t want anything raunchy, which severely limited my selection. I must have stood in CVS for half an hour trying to find the perfect card. And then, suddenly, there it was—as if a spotlight from heaven had been sent to point it out to me. A card with three tubas on it, with red and white curlicues emanating from their bells. Inside, the card read “You put the ‘oomp!’ in my ‘oomp-pah-pah.’” Perfect. Silly, cheesy, topical—it was the one. I left CVS feeling like a success—and three weeks before Valentine’s Day, to boot!

For our Valentine’s Day date, we decided we would go to Bertucci’s. Andrew told me he’d meet me at my dorm at 7:00, so naturally I was ready by 6:15 and spent the next 45 minutes waiting for him to text me to be let in to my building. When he hadn’t texted me by 7:10, I started wondering if I had gotten the time wrong or if something else (really? He’s going to dump me on Valentine’s Day?) was wrong. But then there he was at our door at 7:15, bouquet of yellow roses in hand. He explained that he didn’t want to ruin it by having me let him in downstairs, and instead he waited for someone to be walking into the building so he could follow them in. Now that my minor heart attack had passed, I could appreciate the cuteness of the gesture.

We went into my bedroom to exchange cards and gifts before we left. As we exchanged envelopes, I noticed how similar in size and color they were, but reminded myself that pretty much ALL Valentine’s Day cards come in red envelopes. So I opened my envelope and when I saw the familiar hearts and curlicues I burst out laughing. He looked at me like I was insane until I told him, choking through my hysterics, to open his card.

We sat there and laughed for a good five minutes before we could compose ourselves.

And then we went to dinner and had a perfectly normal, perfectly lovely Valentine’s Day. But every ten minutes or so, we’d look at each other, know that the other was thinking about the matching cards, and get laughing again.

That’s something that I love about us—when we get going, we really get going. That was probably our first big belly-buster, but we’ve had plenty in the six-plus years since. Laughing like that with someone is very intimate; you need to understand a lot about a person in order to laugh like that with them. Most of the time, if you can’t breathe for laughing, it’s not just because you find something funny; it’s because you know the people you are with well enough to know not only that they’ll find it funny too, but why they’ll find it funny.

Our first Valentine’s Day was when we began to know each other deeply enough to have those sort of laughs together. And as we celebrate our seventh Valentine’s Day together, I am surer than ever that my “oomp-pah-pah” is better for his “oomp.”


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